A Few More Reports

Martin Porter (who is assisting me in my masterclasses) writes amusingly about TBP at the Vanguard.

I'm featured composer this week at the Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano Facebook page.

The Selected Ballads was there during the hit with Buster Williams and Ben Riley and just said some nice stuff about it.  This whole list of 2011 live gigs is very cool.  

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Hank Shteamer's interview with Bill Laswell is fascinating, for me especially the parts about Tony Williams.  Shteamer offers more context in an intriguingly honest introduction at his blog

I think jazz needs to learn to be more like Shteamer and Laswell discussing genre:  specific, opinionated, and searching for not just musical but political truths.  When I went to the NEA Jazz Masters celebration last week I was disappointed in how refined and ultimately boring it all was.  There was no reason for a civilian to get excited about the new "class"  (DeJohnette, Haden, V. Freeman, S. Jordan, J. Owens) or the live performances (Hutcherson, R. Carter, Golson, F. Wess, Liebman, etc.).  

As a jazz fanboy of the highest order -- I'm someone who would take a bullet for Ron Carter or Charlie Haden -- I was aware of the evening's significance.  But really, how about just a little bit more sex and charisma for the uninitiated, huh? A smooth talking and humorous MC would have made all the difference.  (Benny Golson could have done it:  during his introduction of Von Freeman, he had the audience in the palm of his hand, unlike just about everyone else.)

And enough with endlessly thanking the NEA for these paltry sums and support.  Everyone thanked them over and over!  There have only  been 124 official "Jazz Masters" since 1982, so I can think of 500 more who didn't get it.  (A punk-rockish query:  are you a cooler post-1982 jazz musician if you have been anointed by the government or if you haven't?) DeJohnette made a superb Freudian slip in the first speech, calling his award "small."  It was great moment in a night that didn't have too many of them. 

Sorry for the crankiness, probably big award nights don't bring out the best in anything.  Some of the performances were better than the context.  Listen for yourself here.  Easy highlights were Hutcherson on "In Your Own Sweet Way" (I hate that tune, though) and Golson's entrance on the blues.

(I also enjoyed the final Benny Carter composition "Again and Again" played really well by the JALC band.  This happened while a sequence Jazz Master photos unspooled above.  Typically for this wrong-way telescope of an event, the photographer was captioned, but not the Masters.  Hey, I did well, whispering probably 75% of the names to my wife.  But did everyone else have a partner that could recognize Orrin Keepnews or Gerald Wilson?  I doubt it.  Who's minding the store?)

01/17/2012

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